Planned obsolescence as an engine of technological progress

Arthur Fishman, Neil Gandal, Oz Shy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Critics of capitalism contend that many products are designed to have uneconomically short lives, with the intention of forcing consumers to repurchase too frequently. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as "planned obsolescence". In this paper, we show that a competitive market may generate too much durability in equilibrium. In particular, we show that planned obsolescence may be a necessary condition for the achievement of technological progress and that a pattern of rapidly deteriorating products and fast innovation may be preferred to long-lasting products and slow innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Industrial Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1993


  • Product obsolescence
  • Capitalism
  • Technological obsolescence
  • Economics
  • Economic competition
  • Technological innovations
  • Consumers
  • Markets
  • United States


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